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Home Opinion Kick Starter with Femi Owoeye Why EFCC, NPF Must Probe National Assembly’s Imported SUV Buy

Why EFCC, NPF Must Probe National Assembly’s Imported SUV Buy


It is a known fact that, after every four years, luxury vehicles bought for Nigerian lawmakers disappear. 

That is why multi-billion Naira is wasted on imported luxury vehicles for newly or returned elected lawmakers, a practice that is non-existence in the United States from where we borrowed the Federal system of government. Over there, lawmakers use pool cars.

In the United Kingdom, only the Prime Minister is entitled to an official car, which is usually the locally manufactured Jaguar, which, most of the time, a new Prime Minister inherits from his or her predecessor. Even King Charles simply inherited his deceased mother’s official State car, plus over 400-year-old horsedrawn coaches. Forkland Island governor uses a Black Taxi cab as his official car. These are developed nations, contrary to the practice in Nigeria, an underdeveloped nation.

Defending this glitch on a radio program (FRESH FM) on Monday, 30th October 2023, one Hon. Adekola, a former partaker in the detestable largess, claimed that the cars are bought for lawmakers on a lease, costs of which are deducted from their monthly salaries. Very funny. One would think the Nigerian government is into car dealerships and finance business.

More abracadabra from the horse’s mouth: Answering another question, the former lawmaker, contrary to popular belief, claimed that a member of the lower Chamber (House of Representatives) earns about N1 million per month.

Let us assume, plus other allowances, that a REP member takes home N2.5 million monthly, totaling N30 million (2500000×12) per annum and N120 million (30000000×4) in 4 years. That is still less than the likely padded N160 million claimed to be the unit price of the recently shared Toyota LandCruiser PRADO SUV.

Locally assembled 2023 Nissan Patrol, tropicalized, built to last. But Lawmakers prefer job export

Even if a lawmaker, for four years, goes without food, new clothes, no children’s school fees, and no house rent, N120 million is still not enough to pay for the car.

It is either the FRESH FM guest, an ex-member of the largess-sharing club, lied or was being economical with information. However, a credible National Assembly source, who would not want to be quoted, alleged that the luxury cars are, every four years, bought with public money at heavily padded prices.

“The civil servants in charge prefer imported version to avoid being found out,” he said.

After four years, like a pack of Fried rice, moinmoin, and chicken, the cars then metamorphose into take-away. The lawmakers, I learned, are merely requested to pay a petite percentage of the original cost, based on the four-year second-hand value, which is deceptively determined by the civil servant conspirators. For instance, imagine being asked to pay N30 million for a car bought for N160 million after merely 48 months. As we all know, what would be recorded in the government account would be N15 million, while the balance of N15 million is shared into private pockets.

Made in Nigeria Mercedes-Benz G-Wagon look-alike Innoson IVM G98 was acquired as a state official car by Prof. Charles Soludo, Governor of Anambra State

The same lawmaker, if returned for another four-year term, is guaranteed another expensive luxury car at the end of each term. That is why some legislators, today, have their garages full of expensive cars, converted from official to personal ownership, a terrible tradition perpetuated for decades. And none of them is willing to let go, despite knowing that Nigeria is groaning under economic wreckage.  They don’t care.

By the way, what has become of the Decree 28 of 1994, which prohibits government functionaries from patronizing any automobile that is or could be assembled or manufactured in Nigeria? Has the decree been repealed? I doubt it. For, in accordance with the decree, the Federal Government, in 2016, gave a directive forbidding Ministries, Departments, and Agencies of government from buying imported vehicles that are locally assembled. Ever since, patrol vehicles, rescue buses, and tow trucks used by the Nigerian Police (NPF), Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), and Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), among others have been sourced from local auto manufacturers/assemblers, including Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Company Limited and Nissan Nigeria(Stallion NMN Limited), etc.

Therefore, if the Decree 28 of 1994 has not been repealed, then the nation’s lawmakers have been breaking the law for decades. This goes for the presidency and state governors.

Even if Decree 28 is gone, the EFCC should look into their obvious contravention of the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) Act of Section 84 of the Nigerian 1999 Constitution, which entitles members of the National Assembly to an optional car loan, capped at 400 percent of their annual basic salaries.

Therefore, if truly, the annual basic salary of a senator is N2.02 million, a member is entitled to a car loan of N8.1 million. While a House of Representatives member with an annual basic salary of N1.9 million could draw a loan of up to N7.9 million. Judging by the foregoing and the recent acquisition of N160 million, using Nigeria’s money, members of both houses have contravened the law.

Military defence truck made in Nigeria by PROFORCE

By the way, all locally assembled patrol vehicles of Nigerian Police, FRSC, NIS, and NCS vehicles have been found to be durable and rugged.

To this end, the durability excuses being mouthed by the thoughtless national assembly members to defend their wasteful and unpatriotic importation of Japanese Toyota Prado SUV is claptrap. For instance, Nissan Patrol, also a luxury SUV of Japanese origin and of the same category as the PRADO is assembled in Nigeria. The only difference between the two is that while Nissan Patrol is tropicalized, PRADO is probably not. Check the decades-old towing vehicles patrolling up and down the nation’s federal highways, most of them are Nissan Patrol. With unparalleled off-roading capabilities, Nissan Patrol can tackle any terrain with ease. Made to last, Patrol comes with strong and reliable suspension, which provides smooth rides even on bumpy roads and its unrelenting power makes mincemeat of mountainous terrain. Locally assembled, it is currently sold for N87 million, almost half of the padded N160 million. What a FOREX waste.

Other locally assembled vehicles of the same category as the imported PRADO INCLUDE: Nissan X-Trail- N31 Million, Hyundai Santa FE – N46 million, etc.

Innoson automobile brand is popular in Nigeria and other African countries. Their vehicles are made to last. If our lawmakers and even governors desire an official luxury vehicle, what is wrong with the Innoson’s Mercedes G-Wagon look-alike, now an official car of the Anambra State governor Chukwuma Soludo? Innoson IVM G80 mid-size luxury SUV bulletproof version costs N82.5 million, including VAT.

The question is this: Must the government functionaries spend so much on vehicles? Why not even the Renault Duster mid-size Crossover, another locally assembled SUV of European origin? It costs between N17 million and N21 million. Why are these species in our parliament so wastefully spirited?

All grades of SUVs are assembled in Nigeria. What about the recently opened CIG Assemble plant in Lagos? They assemble durable SUVs too.   We have Proforce limited manufacturing armored personnel carriers and other bulletproof military vehicles for a number of countries in Africa, including Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana, Rwanda, and Chad.

Our profligacy-loving national assembly members would pretend not to be aware. There has been an outcry about the free fall of the Naira. Do our lawmakers know that local production and patronage of what is made in Nigeria is an antidote to the fall of Naira? Are they aware that Manufacturing is the backbone of any economy? Are they aware that the automobile industry is one of the largest employers of labour globally? I believe they know. They just do not care! They would rather export our jobs by importing vehicles equivalent to those that are made or assembled in Nigeria. It was wrong in the past. It is not only wrong now but mostly unpatriotic and wicked, given the state of the nation’s economy.

The president and political leaders keep telling Nigerians to endure. The masses have been tightening belts, as a result of the skyrocketed inflation that followed the fuel subsidy removal.

Sad enough, as I was writing this piece, a media report alleged that President Tinubu’s government plans to spend N2.9 billion on official SUVs. The question on the lips of well-meaning Nigerians is what became of the vehicles used by his predecessor?

Instead of leading by example, all the nation’s lawmakers and even the presidency have exhibited nothing short of insensitivity, Self-centeredness, wickedness, criminality, and barefaced corruption. I’m sure angry Nigerians would like to add more. It is so sad and appalling.

To this end, the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) should be bold enough to beam a searchlight on the circumstances surrounding the four-yearly purchase of the cars for the National Assembly members.

The Inspector General of Police should order an investigation into whether or not, the acts of the National Assembly and other political office holders have contravened either Decree 28 of 1994 or (RMAFC) Act of Section 84 of the Nigerian 1999 Constitution. If so, past and present culprits should be prosecuted.

And henceforth, leaving office, under no condition should any public office holder, no matter how highly placed, take away government properties, including vehicles. And whoever needs a luxury imported SUV should go to car dealers for the hire purchase deal. The Nigerian government is not into car dealerships.

FEMI OWOEYE, Editor, Motoring World International

This culture of personal official vehicles for almost 700 legislators needs to STOP. If the nation can’t afford fuel subsidies, it certainly can’t afford take-home official cars every four years.  As it is practiced in the US, all our lawmakers (federal and state level) need are pool vehicles for use during working hours. Nigerians have heard enough.

On this note, the EFCC and the police are expected to swing into action.

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